(Tuesday 20 Sept. 2022) Age Action today responded to Minister Humphreys’ announcement of reforms to the State Pension by sounding a warning that there is a risk that the measures will lead to inequalities and unfairness for large groups of workers.
Nat O’Connor, policy specialist with Age Action, said “While we welcome the recognition that people want a flexible retirement system, the proposal to allow people to defer the State Pension while working, up to age 70, in exchange for a higher weekly rate is likely to have unintended negative consequences. For many people in arduous work, such as cleaners, labourers, builders and long distance drivers, they could be unable to work to 70 and therefore will not have the opportunity to avail of a higher rate State Pension, despite potentially working for more years than a college graduate who started their career later in life. We would be concerned about multiple rates undermining the principle that the basic rate State Pension should be sufficient to allow someone to meet their essential needs to live in dignity”.
“The proposal to give a new payment to people who cease work in their early 60s after arduous work is beneficial, but it does not address the injustice that many manual workers will never be able to access the higher weekly rates from working longer” said O’Connor.
Age Action welcomes the recognition that people want the State Pension age to stay at 66.
“As the Pensions Commission report made clear, most of the future cost of the State Pension will have to be met through raising PRSI, and raising the pension age would only cover 16% of the cost. Age Action welcomes Minister Humphrey’s sensible provision for five year reviews to allow for the gradual, incremental raising of social insurance closer to European norms. In this context, Ireland has among the lowest rates of social insurance in Europe, so there is scope to underpin the sustainability of the State Pension in a fair way through PRSI.
Age Action warmly welcomes the provision of a pension to long-term carers, which will particularly benefit women who tend to lose out in Ireland’s pension system. We also welcome the provision of better annual information to people about their State Pension” said O’Connor.
“More clarity is needed on the proposal to allow people to work up to the State Pension age. At present, there is mandatory retirement at age 65 for many workers, and it is not good enough to replace that with mandatory retirement at 66 or even 70, as people should be given choice and control over when they transition out of employment. People who choose to retire at 66 should not feel that they are losing out or that they should be working longer” Dr O’Connor concluded.